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Social media, cellphones and the kids, post-divorce: What to negotiate

For better or worse, social media is part of modern American existence. We communicate our beliefs, share jokes, donate to important causes and keep in touch that way.

But parents don’t always agree about how much social media use or exposure their children should have, even when those parents get along. When the parents are divorced, the issues can get even thornier. Parents can go to war over this subject alone, each asserting the right to “make the rules” for their kids’ social media use. (Some parents also aren’t shy about asserting those rights, either. They’ve even been known to use apps that shut off a teen’s phone after a certain hour to keep their social media use down.)

If you don’t want to constantly battle your ex-spouse on this issue, here are some things to negotiate when you make a parenting plan:

  • Should there be a cellphone contract with your teen? A contract can include when the phone can be used, what obligation your teen has to share their passwords with you and their other parent and anti-bullying agreements, among other things.
  • Can one parent take away the phone? This is a tricky question because one parent may want to discipline the teen by taking away their cellphone, but that could make it harder for the other parent to stay in touch. Some ground rules need to be established early on so that neither parent is placed in a “no-contact” zone because a teen misbehaves.
  • What sort of information about or by your teen can be posted? You and your ex-spouse need to come to an agreement regarding photos, names, contact information and other potentially revealing information. You also need your teen to understand the rules about posting, as well.

If you and your ex-spouse are constantly fighting about the rules regarding your teen and social media or their cellphone use, it may be time to revisit your parenting plan and make some adjustments.